¿Otra dictadura? ¡Jamás! / Teodoro Petkoff

Another Dictatorship? Never!

Half a century ago, on a day like yesterday, an uprising of the Venezuelan masses, represented by the residents of Caracas, overthrew the military dictatorship of [Marcos] Pérez Jiménez. In order to produce that result, three central factors converged. First, the unifying agreement of that era’s political forces, who created the Junta Patriótica as an organ to direct the joint effort; second, the uprising of the Caraqueño masses, which began with the general strike on the 21st; third, the final intervention of the Armed Forces (already fractured internally, as evidenced by the February 1st rebellion), who when faced with the political bankruptcy of the dictatorship, took out the chair from under the feet of the General who had ruled in their name, forcing him to stand in the dust.

One historical lesson remains from that day and the events leading to it: the Venezuelan nation is not willing to tolerate an indefinite confiscation of its freedoms by a dictatorship. The people rose up because of apparently abstract things such as freedom and democracy. It’s relevant to remember that the popular revolt began to brew when the dictator tried, by means of the artifice of a plebiscite, to give his mandate a continuity beyond the period established by the Constitution. Ironically, Pérez Jiménez was strangled by his own Constitution. So, it wasn’t necessarily due to strictly material reasons – though these did contribute to the climate that made the insurrection possible – but instead to a democratic complaint: the right to choose; to choose in the widest sense and not only in the political sphere, which had been severely wounded by a dictatorship that made law of the General-dictator’s will.

This is what establishes a link between 23 January 1958 and 2 December 2007. On the latter date, less than two months ago, the nation gave a “back off,” this time peaceful and electoral, to the attempt to eternally install a political regime by means of a constitutional reform that attacked not only the right to choose but would have also transformed into constitutional norm a project that gave the State an invasive power in the private lives of citizens, a move that can only be described as totalitarian. On this occasion, Venezuelans once again came out to defend democracy’s substantive values. On December 2nd, just like fifty years ago, the people mobilized again behind the flag of freedom. Those who aspire to give orders for life should never forget the words of Alonso Quijano, known as Don Quixote: “For the sake of freedom, Sancho, as well as for honor, one can and must venture for the sake of life and, conversely, captivity is the greatest evil that can befall men.” This is what the Venezuelan masses believe in.

{ Teodoro Petkoff, Tal Cual, 24 January 2008 }

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